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Feature: Stargate Atlantis
Tales from the City
With the première of the series' second season looming on the horizon, veteran Stargate director and co-producer Martin Wood lets us in on some of what we can expect to see…
It’s eight years since Martin Wood first stepped through the Stargate for the first season episode Solitudes. Since then, he’s directed more than 50 Stargate adventures, including several instalments of its sister series Stargate Atlantis. It’s been quite a memorable experience for him in more ways than one.
“There’s so much history involved in Stargate, and I don’t just mean what’s on the TV screen,” notes Wood, who is also a co-producer on SG-1 and Atlantis. “I’ll watch the DVD of an episode and think. ‘That’s when Richard Dean Anderson became a father,’ or, ‘That’s when Michael Shanks’s first child was born’. I can look at the DVD of the story Frozen and know the scene I was shooting when I got a phone call telling me that my mom was dying and that I had to come home. Watching Menace, I know the exact time that 9/11 happened. That morning we were filming in the pyramid with the Replicators. Our actors were walking through the door of the pyramid just as the second plane was hitting the second tower. We were all so upset that we couldn’t finish the scene.
“It just amazes me the milestones in your life that you can equate to your work on a TV programme. Weird, huh?”
This past March, Wood was back on the Atlantis set filming The Siege, Part 3, the second season opener and conclusion to the cliffhanger that left Dr Elizabeth Weir and her team fighting to beat off a Wraith invasion force. Despite the timely arrival of military reinforcements from Earth, the situation does not look good. With the third and final instalment, Wood had to figure out how to squeeze the writers’ packed script into 42 minutes of airtime.
“Brad Wright and Martin Gero gave me a script that was really good,” he says. “So the words were all on the page. My challenge was to make them come to life in a way that was even more exciting than Part 2. Not only that, but we had to top what we did in all the big episodes from last year. Well, somehow, we managed to do that. What makes Part 3 so much fun is that it’s not simply a roller-coaster ride with one big hill. It’s one that has three big hills and some loops in the middle as well as other twists that keep you off balance.
“There are a number of different crises that happen in the story,” continues Wood. “The first one finds Major Sheppard in a puddle-jumper and headed straight for a Wraith mothership to blow it up, which means he’s committing suicide to try to save everyone. He’s doing the hero moment, but the major can’t die, so we have to get him home safely. Following that, we introduce our next generation in battlecruisers, the Daedelus, and its commander, Colonel Caldwell. Did I mention that Lt Ford is missing? And, oh, by the way, our heroes have to get the Atlantis shield up, and there’s a time limit because they’re about to be killed by these Wraith darts that are descending on them. Then the very next thing that happens is the Wraith fleet arrives. It seems that the three ships in Siege, Part 2 were just a precursor. Apparently, there was an even bigger fleet on the way.”
by Stephen Eramo
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